Simon Tipping – Freelance Artist

specialising in carnival arts, community lanterns, light installations, using sustainable & recycled materials.

Access to creative and cultural experiences


Simon Tipping – What has he done?

The Covid Midnight Robber

The Covid Midnight Robber – 60 St Giles Street

Brewing UP – An Olympic 2012 Inspire mark project with Festive Road CIC

Recycling a BMW MINI – A Cowley Road Carnival project

Post Cards from Brazil – 2014

Walking with Giants, Milton Keynes

African Giant for MK Melting pot

The Paper Boat Challenge

Simon Tipping Director & Co Founder of Route Canal Arts CIC (2017-present) is based in Claydon, Banbury. Fine arts trained, he first established himself in Milton Keynes in 1985 after completing his Degree in Ceramic’s at Bristol, setting up as a self-employed Ceramic sculptor developing his own style of clay sculpture as well as involving himself in the arts & community of the MK.

In 1992 Simon became a member of the ‘Silbury group Artists’ a collaborative group of nationally known artists based at Westbury Farm Studios, Shenley Wood. This artist led group had an impressive record of exhibitions, international exchanges, residencies, educational & community projects providing artistic links to & with local & national organisations. From 1998 to 2004 Simon became Chairman supporting a program of International Artist Symposiums and artists exchanges held at Westbury Farm studios as well as curating the 10th Anniversary Exhibition at The Milton Keynes Gallery in 2001 and ‘Memoirs of my travels’ the group’s first international exhibition, Kaunas, Lithuania.

In 2000 Simon embarked on a training program & an annual set of Carnivals with Interaction:MK before breaking away with four carnival colleagues to form Festive Road CIC (creative Director/2005-2016) after a trip to the Trinidad carnival in 2005. The Milton Keynes Based company created & designed giant puppets, processional sculptures, costumes, masks, Mas bands, street events, parades & community projects. Simon loves carnival, having attended the Viareggio, Trinidad and Venice carnivals, participated at the Rio carnival with Paul Davies and his Embaixadores da Alegria, travelled to Bei Jing, China with Ali Pretty’s kinetika and her Imagination Our Nation project, as well as show casing the work of Festive Road at the Thames festival night time carnival & creating his own large-scale events such as ‘Walking with Giants’ for Central Milton Keynes.

Simon has a wealth of experience in engaging the young and the old in creative learning, making art accessible and participatory.

 The Covid Midnight Robber

The Covid Midnight Robber commissioned by Northampton Carnival Arts Consortium and EMCCAN (East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network) A 2020 Lockdown project.

 “The Midnight Robber” a traditional “Bad Man” character in Trinidad Carnival who dresses in all black decorated with skulls. He is known for his long eloquent speeches as the Carnival griot or storyteller.

Simon Tipping is an outstanding UK carnival artist who has been working closely with Northampton Carnival and Emccan. He specialises in using natural materials and making excellent, environmentally friendly artistic creations. His costumes are amazing and have been part of the Emccan lockdown commissions, window displays and performances between lockdown. He has a long track record in carnival arts and is very well respected around the UK. He presented at the Greener Carnival Conference in March 2020 prior to the first lockdown, in Bristol.

Donna Fox, Director – EMCCAN

The Covid Midnight Robber – 60 St Giles Street

Northampton Carnival Arts Consortium

60 St Giles Street, Northampton. Shop window display December 2020

Christmas is a time for making merry and in some parts of the Caribbean making mas. Islands such as St Kitts and Montserrat celebrate Carnival during the month of December and on other islands certain carnival characters make an appearance to remind everyone that carnival is coming in the New Year. This Carnival Christmas Nativity Display presented by Northampton Carnival Arts Consortium draws on some of these characters and the spirit of Carnival.

King of The Dance”

 The Midnight Robber”

Ancestorial King

Carnival Christmas Angel

Not being able to provide a spectacular Carnival Parade through the town for 2020 brought about the idea to uplift the town centre for Christmas with a Carnival Display. Through the amazing collaboration of artists Emma Garofalo and Simon Tipping this idea has been brought to life for your enjoyment.

Acknowledgement and Thanks to the following without whom this display would not be possible: East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Consortium, Arts Council England, Northampton Borough Council, The Deco Theatre, Derek Simpson, Kevin Roach and Donna Fox.

Brewing UP

Brewing UP, An Inspire mark project – Festive Road 2009 to 2012

Entertaining visitors and corporates at the Olympic park 27 July 2012

A national street touring performance piece and intervention

A series of school and community workshops

 “If making tea was an Olympic sport, what qualities would you need to make the perfect cup?”

This Festive Road project inspired Simon Tipping’s interest in different celebration traditions and different carnival cultures. Simon is interested in uncovering ‘Britishness’. Tea is seen as quintessentially British but it’s not a British product. The tea & sugar trade provides an important link with our multi-cultural history and identity; also, with our industrial, political and economic history, especially with China, India and the Caribbean. This rich history provides a valuable education and heritage aspect to his work so that he can engage more easily with schools, colleges and youth groups.

Pax Nindi said ‘A few years ago, I was involved in assisting a group of very talented artists to be an arts organisation of which Simon was one of the artists. Since then, the group is now a well-established and respected Arts organisation which I am aware Simon played a key role in its development.

I never seize to be amazed by his artistic drive, attention to detail and most all his relaxed approach to delivery of any commission he gets – big or small.

Simon has the power to inspire all those around him and is respected in the sector. I will always support his endeavours and will commission him anytime I have a project that needs him’.

Pax Nindi FRSA

Chief Executive at Global Carnivalz, January 2017

Recycling a BMW MINI – The Bullnose project

Cowley Road Carnival 2018

Simon worked with a group of apprentices from MINI and a graffiti artist to recycle a car into a carnival float, the mini had failed quality control and road safety once off the production line at Cowley, Oxford. The car was taken apart and put back together using the parts minus the engine, once completed the ‘Bullnose’ took part in the Cowley Road Carnival.

A group of apprentices worked with artists Simon Tipping and Andrew Manson to create this ‘Bullnose’ MINI. The theme of 2018 carnival is ‘Icons of Art’ with the finished product being a bright and eccentric car that matches the theme but stands out through its bold design. The apprentices showed their artistic flare, while creating innovative ideas and engineering solutions that have enabled a truly unique and eye-catching creation in homage to the plant’s first car – the Bullnose Morris.

MINI Plant Oxford

Steve Wrelton
External Communications Manager

AK-1-UK-2 Corporate Communications

Nigel Barber, Group Leader, Apprentice Training School, said: “The Cowley Road Carnival is a great community event and we’re really delighted to be a central part of it this year. The apprentices have worked really hard in coming up with creative ideas and engineering solutions to make it work and I’m really proud of their efforts. As well as being a great exercise in creativity, the carnival offers us a platform to engage with local people and promote the apprenticeship scheme on our doorstep.”

Post Cards from Brazil – 2014

A research trip that provided valuable professional development and networking opportunities for Simon Tipping who has been developing a Giants parade in Milton Keynes and is researching Brazilian carnival roots and Samba performance for Festive Road, (carnival and outdoor arts company based in MK).

GRES Union Curicica Park Galeria do Samba – The samba schools of Rio de JaneiroEmbaixadores da Alegria. Formed mainly by people with motor and cognitive disabilities, the samba school traditionally opens the parade of champions on the Saturday of Rio de Janeiro’s carnival
Ala 03 – Mao para colher   Sugar cane workers – In the bottle, in the barrel, save the rum, cultural heritage of BrazilArtist Emma Garofalo designed and fabricated a large processional dragon with the help of a group of carnival artists visiting from the UK.
Simon and a group of carnival artists take part in The Rio de Janeiro carnival on 1st March at the famous samba dromeSimon and a group of carnival artists take part in The Rio de Janeiro carnival on 8th  March at the famous samba drome

Making space is limited, most costumes are made in peoples flats, houses, and back yards.

Walking with Giants Milton Keynes 2012 – 2015

Recycling pop up tents collected from Reading Festival into Giant puppets, made with Stephenson’s Academy.

Conceived & produced by Simon Tipping with Festive Road, Walking with Giants ran from 2012 – 2015 to showcase Festive Roads work and celebrate the creativity of Milton Keynes through carnival. The event is based on the Medieval Midsummer Watch a traditional British style walking parade. The carnival had the support of Milton Keynes Council, the Theatre District, TheHub:MK, MK Festival Fringe, Age UK Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes Music service, MK International Festival, Milton Keynes Gallery as well as the community & schools Milton Keynes. The bulk of the giants for the event are created in a series of community workshops run by Simon & Festive Road artists, supplemented by professionally made giants from street event companies from around the country.

African Giant for MK Melting pot

One of two African Giant for MK Melting pot – Head and hands made from recycled cardboard on a bamboo frame, made water resistant with water-based glue and paint. A Black History Month event in October 2018 which will was held at the Open Market square, Central Milton Keynes.

The MK Melting Pot team said. ‘We would like to say a ‘BIG thank you’ and the Route Canal Arts team for your valuable time, support and hard work to make the event colourful, enjoyful and successful.

Despite of cold weather, visitors and residents from different cultural and ethnic groups from all over Milton Keynes joined in the parade and enjoyed the day. We are grateful and delighted that you and your team’s support and co-operation enabled us to deliver this 30th year celebration event of Black History Month in UK which reflected the culture and heritage of Black African and Caribbean communities in Milton Keynes’.

The Paper Boat Challenge – Caldecotte Waterside Festive

The renowned Paper Boat Challenge was held annually at Caldecotte Lake. It is an event of ingenuity and creative skills. The challenge is to construct a paper boat using waterbase products, which will not only float but was capable of transporting three people a distance of at least 50 metres. In 1996 and 1998 boats design by Simon & built by young people won the challenge, to date Simon’s record for the event of endurance is 40 mins in the water, 1998.

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